Perfect Storms

storm clouds over gardiner.jpg.jpgThe wind wanders restlessly today, and its movement reminds me of the ocean of air above me. Currents and eddies, ripples and waves, swirl overhead, visible only when clouds betray their secret travels.

I’ve been working at my desk today, and enjoying the view of cumulus clouds gathering around Electric Peak, and of the wind rushing through my window, reminding me of the gathering storm outside. I am hoping for a natural firework’s show tonight, nature’s delayed Fourth of July celebration.

Half%20Dome%20Storm.JPG.jpgNothing mesmerizes me as much as watching a thunderstorm. To some, storms are an annoyance, to others a danger—for me I am utterly admiring of such a terrible, beautiful force--as long as I am happily situated in a safe location!

When hiking the John Muir trail, I once got caught at 12,000 feet on Pinchot Pass when an unusual morning thunderstorm suddenly struck. I still remember the crackle in the air, my body hair standing up on end, and my ears ringing from what sounded like gunshots firing next to me. At that point is was all dependent on luck whether or not I survived.

Sheep%20Peak.jpgSome fun lightning facts: Over 8.6 million lightning strikes hit the ground each day (which works out to 100 strikes per second). The temperature of a lighting bolt can also reach a level five times hotter than the surface of the sun. A bolt can also travel up to 7 million mph. All of these speak to the awesome force one witnesses when gazing a thunderheads on the horizon.

One last fun weather fact for the day: Montana holds the US record for weather extremes. The highest temperature in Montana was recorded today in 1937, while in January of 1954 a record 70 below zero registered on the thermometer. The range of 187 degrees between the two extremes is the largest in the United States.

I do not have enough photographic skill to capture lightning (that requires knowledge of foreign concepts like apreture and shutter speed), but I've included photos of some of my favorite storms.